i3 | May 03, 2019

Indiegogo: More than a Crowdfunding Site

Jeremy Snow

At the center of the Indiegogo Zone, a pink plastic tree stood tall enough to see from across Eureka Park — the dedicated area for startups and entrepreneurs at CES. Look closer, past the bright lights dangling from its branches, and you’ll see the names of successful companies who used Indiegogo written on its metallic leaves.

For the well-known crowdfunding site, the tree represented the growth of each business from a seed of an idea to a flourishing product. But the tree could also represent Indiegogo itself, as it has flowered into the tech world’s go-to site for crowdfunding. Even its CES presence has blossomed, its open space giving way to a dozen booths of site-funded companies and an entire stage for speakers.

Since David Mandelbrot became CEO in 2016, Indiegogo has focused on appealing to entrepreneurs, as opposed to other sites — Kickstarter, GoFundMe — who also court creators, artists and fundraising campaigns. Indiegogo most resembles an incubator, accelerator or investor. They help companies solve the challenges facing startups, such as manufacturing, production, retail, licensing and international sales, Mandelbrot said.

“To provide real benefits to innovators and do it effectively, we knew we would have to focus 100 percent on the entrepreneurs,” Mandelbrot said. “What we found is that entrepreneurs, more than any other category, had deep needs that we could help satisfy.”

Once Indiegogo embraced startups and tech products, it was embraced back. All over Eureka Park — and even on the main show floor at CES — you could find young businesses whose success was sparked because of an Indiegogo campaign. Today, it has raised more than one billion dollars in total funding across 223 countries and territories, according to their website.

This was Indiegogo’s seventh CES. The event serves as “a gathering place for all of the entrepreneurs who have used our platform,” Mandelbrot said, helping investors connect to retailers and other companies. This year, Indiegogo also used CES to connect to the Chinese market, hosting a “China Happy Hour” at the show.

More than Money

To become the go-to site for entrepreneur crowdfunding, Indiegogo now offers entrepreneurial services, including mentorship, consultations and connections to help business owners with more than just financing.

One way Indiegogo accomplishes this is the Arrow Certification Program. It partnered with Arrow Electronics to let funded companies receive help with design, production, manufacturing and the supply chain. It’s one of many opportunities they offer to ensure companies can go from concept to market while supporting the unexpected number of customers they can get.

“We brought Arrow in so that these entrepreneurs who had a good idea could verify that the product they were developing could actually be manufactured,” Mandelbrot said. “Arrow helps to get them good pricing for their products and their components.”

Indiegogo also partnered with Ingram Micro to help companies ship their product and assist with back order management, overseas shipment and packaging. Finally, they partnered with AT&T to offer Internet of Things (IoT) developers access to exclusive cellular data plans if they worked with the technology.

Businesses such as Modobag — the suitcase you can ride through an airport like a mini go-kart — have used partnerships like the one with Arrow to help launch their product without overly depending on retailers. With CES and their crowdfunding campaign, customers could find them, then Indiegogo helped them deliver.

“Product innovators are bypassing traditional distribution methods,” Mandelbrot said. “They aren’t getting distributors or selling to retailers, they are selling directly to customers. The future of retail might not even need a retailer."

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